What’s with the Real ID License, and Do You Need One?

A TSO verifying the ID of a traveler.

After October 1, 2020, your standard driver’s license will not take you as far as it once did. If you don’t already have a real username or an enhanced driver’s license, here’s what you need to know and when to upgrade.

What is a real identifier?

In 2005, the US Congress passed the REAL ID Act to establish national standards for the issuance of identification forms. For more information, you can visit the Department of Homeland Security website, but here are the main details:

  • Effective October 1, 2020, a regular driver’s license will no longer be considered a valid piece of ID for domestic air travel or entry to certain federal facilities. However, others TSA approved identity forms, like an American passport, will still be acceptable for domestic air travel.
  • If you don’t switch to a real ID card or an enhanced driver’s license, you can still use your standard ID card for driving, buying alcohol, or for non-air travel.

How quickly you need to improve your identification depends on your travel and work needs. If your driver’s license does not expire for several years and you never fly or work in a federal institution, it is not urgent to upgrade.

However, if you are a frequent traveler or work in an establishment with secure access, you will want to visit the issuing agency in your state as soon as possible to sort it out.

What is better: Real ID or improved?

The video below (courtesy of New York State Department of Motor Vehicles) explains the differences between a TRUE ID and an enhanced driver’s license, as well as the possibility of keeping an old ID.

So what’s the big difference? An enhanced driver’s license is a form of identification that conforms to Real ID. You can use it to cross land borders from the United States to Canada and Mexico without providing a passport.

If you already have a passport and you don’t mind taking it with you to cross land borders, there is no reason to get an enhanced driver’s license. If you frequently cross land borders (and live in a state that offers enhanced driver’s licenses), the $ 30 to $ 50 that needs to be upgraded may be worth it if you don’t want to carry a coin with you. additional identity.

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